Developed By: Sometimes You
Published By: Sometimes You
Category: Puzzle Platformer
Release Date: 3.30.2018
Indie puzzle platformer Alteric for Nintendo Switch is a stylish but fairly standard example of its genre. The object of the game is to get the character’s icon, in this case a simple white square, from the beginning of the stage to the goal at the end of the stage. The game looks great and plays smoothly, and it has some inventive mechanics that help it stand out from other platformers. The gameplay isn’t immersive or revolutionary, but it’s a fun way to spend a few minutes or hours, whichever you have time for.
As I said, the gameplay doesn’t blaze a lot of new trails in terms of its platforming elements, but it’s engaging and challenging enough to keep it interesting. Alteric has your standard obstacles like pitfalls, moving platforms, and tiles that fall when you step on them. There are more active obstacles like lasers, spinning saw blades, and roving swarms of monsters to outrun. You move the character icon with the left stick, and you can jump and double jump with the A button. The basic platforming action is fun and sharp; success requires timing and forethought in equal measure. Throughout some levels there are checkpoints after particularly difficult sequences, which is a nice touch. It’s always frustrating to get past a hard series of obstacles and then have to do it all again. Not every stage has a checkpoint, and not every stage needs one. Unfortunately, there are a few stages where I would have preferred an additional checkpoint or two after some hard sequences. It wasn’t on overwhelming issue, but a few stages left a bad taste in my mouth because of how many times I had to complete a high-difficulty sequence.
What sets Alteric apart is the ability to shift between worlds with the Y button. Switching worlds changes the stage around by either introducing new platforms to jump to or removing walls in your way. It is integrated into the gameplay in some very innovative ways; you will often have to shift worlds mid-jump to either create a landing spot for yourself or remove an obstacle in your way. You can shift worlds to introduce shields to block laser beams or possibly create a bridge over spikes – there are lots of possibilities, is what I’m getting at. Having to change the stage at multiple points during a jumping sequence creates a very challenging dynamic for the gameplay. It also forces the tempo of the game to speed up in certain parts, meaning the puzzles presented by the platforming elements can’t just be overcome by planning alone; the ability to execute solutions to the puzzles depends just as much on dexterity and intuition as strategy.
Despite its simplistic design, Alteric is a very slick-looking game. The character icon is a simple white square, but when it moves it leaves a very cool-looking square cloud trail. It creates a very cool effect when the trail traces the arc of a jump through the air and fades away. The setting is kind of simple, but the backgrounds are sharp and bright which creates an overall attractive game. The background color changes when you shift worlds, which is a nice touch. It doesn’t affect the gameplay in any way, but I did think it looked cool. The music is mostly forgettable; I had to start up the game three times when I was writing this review just to remember how it affected (or, actually, didn’t really affect) the game’s atmosphere. There is music there, it just doesn’t make its presence felt in any meaningful way.
Alteric is a pretty good-looking game overall, and it doesn’t make a difference whether you’re playing it on an undocked Switch or plugged into a TV. I guess that may depend on the quality of your TV, but either option looked good to me. The controls are the same whether you’re playing with your Joycons connected or separate, or even if you’re using a Pro controller. There aren’t any touch or motion controls, so there’s really not a great difference across all the different ways you can play a Switch.
TL;DR: Slick, innovative platformer.
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